Who We Are

The House of Mercy and our founder, Sister Grace Miller, are dedicated to serving and advocating for Rochester, NY’s homeless citizens.

Food, shelter, clothing, advocacy — operating 24/7, the House of Mercy never closes its doors on people in need.

We strive to be a beacon of hope for the poorest of the poor, and we never give up on the thousands of people we serve each month.


OUR HISTORY

In 1985, Sister Grace Miller could see that homelessness was a big problem in Rochester, NY, and there simply weren’t enough shelters to meet the need. Sister Grace immediately went to work, and with help from the Sisters of Mercy, she opened a shelter in a small house on Central Park just north of downtown Rochester.

“As soon as we opened the door, people flooded in,” Sister Grace recalls.

And as need has grown, so too has the House of Mercy, now a permanent homeless shelter and drop-in center on Hudson Ave. serving more than 4,000 people a month.

 

OUR PEOPLE


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Sister Grace Miller

In 1985, Sister Grace Miller could see that homelessness was a big problem in Rochester, NY. The House of Mercy and our founder, Sister Grace Miller, are dedicated to serving and advocating for Rochester, NY’s homeless citizens.


STAFF



Sister Rita

Kelly Finnigan


OUR BOARD



Pam Smith | Secretary

Christine Castronova

Ashley Papp | Fundraising

Alan Hanford

Barbara Green

Laurent Esquier

Edward Hourihan

Jim Vogel

OUR PHILOSOPHY

At the House of Mercy, our doors are always open — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round —  to all in need, of any age, ethnicity, religion, for as long as help is needed. We support our area’s homeless and poor with respect, with love, and with dignity. The House of Mercy embraces the Housing First  philosophy of housing — that is,

we are committed to providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible, understanding that safety and security are paramount needs for all individuals. Once housing is found, then services are provided to help other existing needs.

 

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At the House of Mercy we try to remove all of the challenges that people trying to seek assistance normally run into. Simplifying this process means they are back on their feet sooner. We do not require identification, or proof of income requirements before helping an individual.

OUR UNIQUE ROLE IN ROCHESTER

Many of the people who come to us have so many severe problems that other shelters and agencies, with a more limited approach to service delivery, simply are not equipped to help them move forward with their lives.

When you’re dealing with severe poverty, mental illness and longstanding addiction problems, you cannot put a time limit on assistance if you truly want to make a difference.

We have seen many people fail one attempt at rehabilitation after another. Then one day something clicks. And after decades of struggle, a life is saved. That’s why we often say that “hope is made out of steel at The House of Mercy.”

The problems our people face are often extremely complex and intertwined. That’s why we often go to extraordinary lengths to help them. Our approach is not only compassionate and caring, it is based on a realistic appraisal of what needs to be done to make a real difference in the lives of some of the poorest people in Rochester.


Our House Rules:

This is the House of Mercy. We welcome you as our guest. We provide you shelter and safety. Please observe these rules:

 

  • No weapons.

  • No smoking.

  • No drinking alcohol.

  • No drug use.

  • No sexual activity.

  • No swearing or foul language.

  • No violence.

 

 We expect respect, love and care from one another, and for all to have a big, open heart.

Through out our website you will see many beautiful photographs of the House of Mercy, our staff and volunteers and our residents. We value our residents privacy and always ask permission before taking their pictures. Photography is an important way that we share our mission and work with our supporters. Many of the photos you see on our site are credit of our volunteers Julie Oldfield, Michele Ashlee, Audrey Horn, Arleen Thaler, and Amber James.